- North Dakota Maintains No. 1 Spot in USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll B1G/College
- The Battle Royale that wasn't OSU beats back upstart Indiana 42-35 (Below) Tom Allen Presser (Below)
- B1G Basketball preseason all basketball team (B1G/College Pg.)
- Bowling Green Head coach Scott Loeffler on his teams preparation for Buffalo - Week 4) (B1G/MAC Football Pg.)
- CMU Football: Coach McElwain on preparing for week four of Chippewa football. (B1G/MAC Football Pg.)
- GAM Players of the year (Michigan Golf Scene)
- Men’s Basketball MAC Preseason Poll Announced (Below and B1G/College Pg.)
- EMU Women's Golf Inks Kyleigh Dull for the 2021-22 Campaign
Dull was the 2018 and 2019 Ohio State Girls Division II State Champion (Mich. Golf Scene Pg.)
Senior tight end Drew Rosi will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in finance on Sunday, Dec. 6
By: Chris Cullum Toledo
Assistant Director of Athletic Communications
When senior tight end Drew Rosi put on his Toledo jersey as a freshman in 2017, he wasn't the first in his family to do so. Nor would he be the last.
Drew's father, Steve Rosi, played tight end for the Rockets from 1992-95, earning first-team All-MAC and honorable mention All-America honors as a senior in 1995. So when Drew had his first meeting position meeting with the other tight ends his freshman year, some of his teammates began to connect the dots.
"It took about a day or two," Drew said. "There's a big picture of my dad with his name, it didn't take long for them to put it together."
Now in his fourth season, Drew has also left his mark on the Rocket football program. He played in 10 games as a true freshman in 2017, helping Toledo win a MAC Championship. He set career highs last year with 18 catches for 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winning TD reception in an overtime win against Eastern Michigan.
Drew has also been an exemplary student since arriving at Toledo. He is a two-time Academic All-MAC honoree and he will graduate this semester with a bachelor's degree in finance from the College of Business and Innovation.
"Drew comes from a great family and he's a guy that understands the importance of handling responsibilities at a high level," head coach Jason Candle said. "He's been that way since the minute he stepped on campus. Drew is a guy that doesn't back away from challenges. He meets them head on."
"As a parent, it feels great to know that one of your children has put forth that much effort and dedication towards something," said Steve Rosi, who played on the last undefeated Rocket team in 1995. "It's a difficult thing to play Division I sports and graduate college while doing as well as Drew has academically. It makes me smile to know what he has been able to accomplish."
Drew is the oldest of the three children in the Rosi family, all of whom are student-athletes. His younger brother Nick maintained the family legacy and followed him to Toledo, earning Freshman All-America honors as an offensive lineman last season. Younger sister Raegan is a freshman on the Wheeling University volleyball team. Living in the Columbus suburb of Powell, most of the conversations around sports unsurprisingly revolved around the Ohio State Buckeyes. But not for the Rosi family.
"Growing up in the Columbus area it was always about Ohio State or Michigan," Drew said. "But I didn't really care about either because I was a Rocket fan."
A standout player at Olentangy Liberty High School, Drew had other opportunities to play college football, but in the end the decision was a no-brainer.
"I had other offers," Drew said. "But the only school that I think really appreciated me and wanted me was Toledo."
Drew had grown up hearing about Toledo football and rooting for the Midnight Blue and Gold; now he would be joining them on the gridiron.
"When I was younger I used to listen to my dad's stories about how it was when he was here," Drew said. "It's cool being here and seeing his picture in the tight end room. It's a great place to be and I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to play where he did."
Earning the chance to be a Division I student-athlete is an accomplishment in itself, let alone becoming an important contributor on a team. And if there was one person who knew what it felt like to stand in Drew's shoes, it was his father.
Drew (center) with his father Steve (far left), sister Raegan
(second from left), mother Deana (second from right),
and brother Nick (far right).
"I know the dedication and hard work it takes to just being available, and enduring all the bumps and bruises," Steve said. "It means a lot to see him out there. I still get chills."
Last week's game against Eastern Michigan was the first time Steve was not able to see Drew or Nick play in person. They're all only a phone call away though, and Steve has been happy to serve as a resource for his two sons.
"They know I'm here and I've obviously shared a lot with them over the years," Steve said. "But I also know they take care of their business and do things the right way. As a father, I'm actually proud of the times they don't lean on me because I know they're doing okay on their own and thriving."
To steal a phrase from his father, Drew has definitely been taking care of business academically. He carries a 3.72 cumulative grade point average as a finance major and has met the criteria to be an Academic All-America nominee each of the last two seasons. The move to virtual classes this semester has not affected him at all; on the contrary, they're a good fit for his personality.
"I've always liked online classes," Drew said. "I like to get all of my work done as soon as I can so I can have plenty of time for football or to hang out or do whatever I want to do. Having online classes where I can work at my own pace helps with that. I've also had a lot of online classes in the past, so I was used to that type of schedule."
Drew plans to pursue professional football opportunities that become available once he leaves Toledo, and his dream job isn't far removed from his pigskin dreams. One day he would like to put his finance degree to good use and become the CFO of an NFL franchise.
Drew's Toledo journey doesn't end with the Virtual Commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 6. The Rockets' final regular season game is six days later on Dec. 12 against Central Michigan, and he has also enrolled in COBI's graduate program where he will pursue his MBA in finance. The door is not closed on his playing career either; all football student-athletes in NCAA Division I will not accrue a year of eligibility this season, meaning he will be able to return in 2021 if he so desires.
In any case, receiving his bachelor's degree is a natural time to reflect on his time as a Rocket, and one thing is abundantly clear. Not only has Drew Rosi left an impact on the University of Toledo, but the University of Toledo has left an impact on Drew Rosi.
"It's been one of the best decisions I've ever made," Drew said. "Being able to graduate college and pursue a career in football or finance or something else entirely, my time at Toledo will give me the opportunity to be successful in whatever I do. It's something you dream about when you're a kid."
The Battle Royale that wasn't OSU beats back upstart Indiana 42-35
Ohio State junior quarterback Justin Fields (1) rushes the football down the field against Indiana Nov. 21. Credit: Christian Harsa | Assistant Photo Editor
Ohio State got its first top-10 win Saturday, but its play on the field left much to be desired.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a hot start, forcing Indiana into a quick punt on its opening drive and scoring on a two-play drive capped off by a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Justin Fields to sophomore wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
However following that opening drive, Fields’ next three throws would result in two interceptions and an incompletion, allowing the Hoosiers to stick around in the opening half. Although the game would get as narrow as seven points late in the fourth quarter, Ohio State (4-0) would ultimately win the game 42-35 against Indiana (4-
“Really excited to be 4-0,” head coach Ryan Day said Saturday. “Coming off the bye week there and just looking back on everything we’ve been through the last few months, to be 4-0, be first place in the Big Ten East, big, big deal. Couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
Fields went on to finish the game 18-for-30 for 300 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Wilson and junior wide receiver Chris Olave continued their stellar play with both reaching the 100-yard mark again. Wilson has reached the century-mark in every game this season, while this is Olave’s third game over 100 yards.
Wilson hauled in seven receptions for 169 yards and two scores, while Olave added 101 yards on eight receptions.
On the ground, redshirt sophomore running back Master Teague III had a career day, finishing the game with a career-high in yards and touchdowns.
GAM PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jackson’s Steve Maddalena Tops 2020 Senior Honor Roll
FARMINGTON HILLS – Jackson’s Steve Maddalena has taken his game to the national stage in recent years, but still manages to star at home at age 60, too.
“Honestly, I’m playing better now than I have in a long time,” he said. “I’m more comfortable with my game and playing against national players has helped.”
Maddalena, a Country Club of Jackson member, is the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM) Senior Men’s Player of the Year, Ken Hartmann senior director of competitions and USGA services, announced today. It’s the second consecutive year that Maddalena has earned the honor.
GAM Players of the Year are determined by the Honor Roll/Player of the Year points system. Player of the Year point totals can be found on a pull down from the PLAY tab at GAM.org.
Last week James Piot of Canton was named the GAM Men’s Player of the Year and Anna Kramer of Spring Lake was named the Women’s Player of the Year. Over the next few weeks the GAM will announce more Players of the Year in gender and age categories.
“It was one of my goals this year – to try and repeat as Senior Player of the Year – and I was fortunate to do that,” said Maddalena, who was elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2007. “The competition is great and it doesn’t get easier. Every year a new group of guys turn 55 and make it even more competitive.”
Most of the national events outside of USGA competitions don’t factor in GAM Player of the Year points, but Maddalena did have four top-10 finishes in significant tournaments around the country. His best finish was a second in the recent Society of Seniors – Founder’s Cup Championship at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif.
His 393 GAM Player of the Year points were built primarily by winning the Michigan Senior Open in a sudden-death playoff with fellow Hall of Fame member and professional Jeff Roth of Boyne Golf Academy, as well as reaching the semifinals of the GAM Senior Match Play Championship where he was topped by eventual champion Mitch Wilson of Portage.
It was Wilson, a member at the Moors Golf Club and the 2018 Senior Men’s Player of the Year, who finished second in the 2020 Player of the Year point totals with 233 points.
Gregg Bonamici of Grosse Ile Golf & Country Club, the GAM Senior Champion, was third with 200 points. Jerry Gunthorpe of Ovid and Owosso Country Club was third with 190 points, and John Barbour of Grand Rapids and Cascade Hills Country Club rounded out the top five with 150 points.
Barbour lost in a playoff to Bonamici in the GAM Senior Championship at Belvedere, and Maddalena said missing a putt on the final hole of regulation play to miss being part of the playoff was one of his few regrets of the summer.
“I really wanted to win that tournament at Belvedere, one of my favorite courses,” said Maddalena, who won his first of three Michigan Amateur titles at the Charlevoix classic course.
Otherwise, Maddalena, who also won the Jackson City Golf Championship for a record eighth time and became its oldest winner ever, said he had a solid summer and plans to keep playing a combination of Michigan and national tournaments.
“I’ve had a lot of fun traveling around playing against the best players in the country,” he said. “To get ranked in the national top 50 seniors in the country (World Amateur Golf Rankings) was one my goals for the summer and I finished at 46. I would like to keep improving on that. As long as I feel I’m competitive and have a reasonable chance to win, I’ll keep playing like this. As soon as I feel I don’t have a chance to win, I probably will not be playing much and saving myself a lot of money.”
Hartmann said he expects Maddalena to remain competitive for a long time.
“His wedge game is really good, he’s aggressive, he grinds on that short game and doesn’t make big mistakes or big numbers,” he said. “He’s consistent and seems to work on the game like he did when he was younger. He’s a cordial guy, great to be around, not cocky, and very quiet. You don’t know if he is playing great or playing poorly. You just can’t tell from his face because he is locked-in to his game.”
DASHA KOVALOVA WINS WOMEN'S SERIES EVENT AT MAYFLOWER LANES
By Mark Martin- Dasha Kovalova won the Metro Detroit USBC (MDUSBC) Women's Series event Sunday with a 225-214 triumph over Lesia Lambert of Allen Park at Mayflower
Lanes in Redford. Kovalova took home the top prize of $500, while Lambert settled for $250.
Kovalova qualified fifth in the field of 37, with a four-game total of 893 on games of 215, 203, 225 and 250. She earned a bye in the first round, but once match play began she beat Jenna Pollak of Fraser 258-194 and Kasey Eaton of Wyoming 254-207 to advance to the finals.
Lambert qualified sixth with 858, which included games of 241, 204, 209 and 204. She also earned a bye and then defeated Stacey Timmer of Wayland 195-183 and last year's champion Sheri Verespej of Newport 259-237 on her way to the finals.
Last year's Cup Champion Robin Orlikowski of Grand Rapids failed to qualifyfor match play.
Erik Jones has moved over to Richard Petty Racing after winless 2020
Rocket Mortgage Classic Set to Tee Off on July 4 weekend in 2021
DETROIT (September 2, 2020) – Following a wildly successful debut in 2019 and a spectacular sophomore showing earlier this year, the third-annual Rocket Mortgage Classic will be held June 28 - July 4, 2021, as it returns to the historic Detroit Golf Club.
The event will focus on raising funds to support the “Changing the Course” initiative which was launched in 2020 in light of the profound impact of COVID-19 on Detroit and the clear need for greater and more equitable digital connectivity in America’s least connected major city. The vision of this multi-year campaign is to ensure every Detroit resident has access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training they deserve within a 10-minute walk of their home.
“We are creating the PGA TOUR’s must-see event in 2021 by leveraging the incredible momentum generated from the first two years of the Rocket Mortgage Classic,” said Jason Langwell, Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Bringing 156 of the world’s best golfers to Detroit over the Fourth of July weekend has proven to be a great way to celebrate the holiday, especially considering we are continuing to make a positive impact on one of our country’s great cities through our efforts with Changing the Course.”
During the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic, $1.4 million was raised to support Changing the Course through a special charity exhibition match hosted by two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, as well as the AREA 313 Challenge, where donations from title sponsor Rocket Mortgage were triggered by players who made an eagle, ace or birdie (3-1-3) on holes 14, 15 and 16. The event’s total contribution to non-profit partners, including the net proceeds from the 2020 tournament, will be announced in the coming weeks and is expected to far surpass the amount generated in 2019.
“While the Rocket Mortgage Classic is a great event – bringing together our team members, the community and TOUR golfers for an exciting weekend at Detroit Golf Club – we remain laser focused on using the tournament to make a lasting impact that benefits the residents of our hometown through Changing the Course,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Mortgage. “Providing every Detroiter access to the internet is no small feat, with nearly one in three families currently lacking connectivity, which is why we continue to leverage this unique platform as a vehicle for good.”
After Nate Lashley cruised to a six-stroke victory and his first career PGA TOUR win at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic, Bryson DeChambeau muscled his way to 23-under-par to win the 2020 tournament. Ranked 10th in the world entering the event, DeChambeau earned his sixth career TOUR win at the age of 26, leading the field with an average driving distance of 350.6 yards.
The 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic was one of the PGA TOUR’s
The Rocket Mortgage Classic was the most awarded event on the PGA TOUR’s 2018-19 schedule, being recognized for “Best Special Event” (the AREA 313 Celebrity Challenge) and “Best Tournament Sales” as well as being honored with the first “Fair Way Award” for its diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Ally Challenge: Jim Furyk birdies 4 of 5 to pull within one shot of the lead (Leaderboard Below)
The Press (including myself) talk to golf hall of famer Vijay Singh on still dominating on Legends Tour
All that mattered was the fist bump -- not handshake -- with Jack Nicklaus and taking his place along his idol, Seve Ballesteros, as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world.
With a 2-shot penalty because his ball moved the length of a dimple on his chip-in behind the 16th green, Rahm closed with 3-over 75 for a 3-shot victory over Ryan Palmer.
Rahm got up and down on the final four greens, which made it even sweeter.
One of the best performances of my life,'' Rahm said. "Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. As a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way.''
The fiery emotion is his hallmark. He showed it on a tee shot that sailed left into a creek on the 11th hole, slamming his club into the ground in a pique of anger. It was also evident with a ferocious fist pump after his flop shot from deep rough behind the 16th green rolled into the cup.
Birdie or bogey, it was a winner, a shot that would have made Ballesteros proud.
"I still can't believe it, I'm not going to lie,'' Rahm told Nicklaus off the 18th green.
With the penalty -- Rahm had no idea it was an issue until after his round but accepted the penalty when he saw video that zoomed in on the ball -- he finished at 9-under 279 for his 10th career victory and fourth on the PGA Tour.
Muirfield Village played its toughest in 42 years, with only five players under par, the fewest for the final round since the tournament began in 1976. Rahm's 75 was the highest finish by a winner since Roger Maltbie shot 76 the inaugural year.
The rough wasn't cut all week. The greens were allowed to go to the edge because they are being replaced. Crews stripped the entire fifth green as the leaders were on the back nine.
Rahm looked to be playing a different course. He played bogey-free on the front nine, with birdies on the two par-5s. That put him eight shots clear on his way to No. 1.
Then he made bogey on the 10th. Not a problem.
He yanked his tee shot into a creek on the par-5 11th, and that was a bigger problem, based on how hard he slammed the club into the ground in a pique of anger. He made double-bogey. Palmer made birdie on the 12th, and Rahm made another bogey from the bunker on the 14th.
Just like that, the lead was three shots.
Jon Rahm, pictured above with Jack Nicklaus, closed with a 3-over 75 for a 3-shot victory over Ryan Palmer, marking the highest final round by a Memorial winner since Roger Maltbie shot 76 in the inaugural year in 1976. Aaron Doster/USA TODAY SportsOnly a week ago at Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open, Justin Thomas had a 3-shot lead with three holes to play and wound up losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa.
Rahm was worried that his tee shot might find the back bunker, though the rough was not a great option with how fast the greens were running. Rahm was thinking that anything inside 10 feet would be good. This was perfect, with the ball landing on the fringe and sliding down the slope into the cup.
As for the penalty?
"It doesn't change the outcome of the tournament,'' he said. "It just puts a little bit of an asterisk in it, in the sense of I wish I could just keep that birdie because it was one of the greatest shots of my life, right?''
The chip was similar -- but from a different angle -- to Tiger Woods' chipping in from behind the 16th green when he won the Memorial for the fifth time in 2012.
Woods, in his first competition since Feb. 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, shot 76 and tied for 40th.
Matthew Fitzpatrick had a 68 for the low score of the final day to finish third.
The consolation prize went to Palmer (74) and Mackenzie Hughes (72), who earned spots in the U.S. Open in September at Winged Foot as the leading two players from the top 10 who were not already eligible.
Henrik Norlander could have taken the final spot with a par on the 18th, but he missed the fairway well to the right, couldn't reach the green and made bogey. Norlander and Hughes tied at 3-under 285, but the spot went to Hughes because he had the better world ranking.
That ranking now starts with Rahm, who only four years ago was at the Memorial to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's best college player.
Now he's the best in the world, a ranking Rory McIlroy had since Feb. 9.
"He deserves it," McIlroy said after his tie for 32nd. "He's been playing great for a long time. Even the display this week, it's pretty impressive."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Tyler Kotila- New Jock City-The Detroit Tigers are buried in the rebuild right now, but 2020 is still going to be a make or break season for outfielder JaCoby Jones as he looks to show he belongs.The 2020 season is going to be a crucial one for Detroit Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones who needs to prove that he belongs in the big leagues after a rough showing the past two seasons. Jones has been in the big leagues for parts of the past four seasons. The main issue with Jones is his plate discipline and lack of patience, leading to far too many strikeouts.
The Tigers outfield this year consists of some familiar faces, even an old friend in the form of Cameron Maybin, but if Jones wants to stick around, he needs to improve and show he belongs. He will get the opportunities this year platooning with Maybin and Víctor Reyes, who will find himself all over.
With Daz Cameron continuing in his route to the big leagues, Jones is going to have some more competition once the prospects within the organization continue developing. That is if he’s still around by that point in time.
In 2019, Jones played in eighty-eight games where he hit .235/.310/.430 with eleven home runs and twenty-six RBI while striking out ninety-four times. Injuries kept Jones on the injured list in 2019, and off the lineup card, he continued to show inconsistency either way.
Back in 2018, in his first “full” season in the big leagues, Jones was not very good posting a .207/.266/.304 with eleven home runs and thirty-four RBI while striking out 142 times on the season. Jones’s inconsistency at the plate has limited his value during his time in the big leagues.
The hope for Jones would be that a strong spring performance would carry over to the regular season, and he can emerge as a true consistent everyday centerfielder.
My take on Detroit Sports News- by Roy J. Akers
The Ally Challenge: Who is more excited, Tom Izzo to meet the Legends or the Legends to meet Izzo?
This week in sports
Me neither. OSU needed a lot of shoddy play to make the game close and Justin Fields
One bit of irony is Richard Petty bowed out of NASCAR during Jeff Gordan's first race and now Jimmie Johnson's final race happened during Chase's first championship.
Ball State football presser after beating Eastern Michigan
MAC Football West coaches media day
MAC East Football Coaches Media Day
Julia Huren of Westland defeated Robin Orlikowski of Grand Rapids 225-192 in the final match to win the MDUSBC Queens at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park.
Huren had lost to Orlikowski 219-205 to force a final and deciding match. Huren won the title and $1,000, while Orlikowski settled for $500.
Huren qualified second with a six-game total of 1,376 on games of 189, 236, 279, 248, 190 and 234. In match play she beat Sheri Verespej of Newport226-201, Lauren Krywy of Sterling Heights 233-180 and Orlikowski the first time 248-236. She then had to wait for a challenger to emerge from the loser's bracket in the double-elimination format. She averaged 228.5 for 11
games of competition.
Orlikowski, the 2017 MDUSBC Queens champion, qualified fourth with 1,332 with a high game of 244. In match play she beat Nicole Harrison of Clinton Township 225-220, top qualifier Brandie Reamy of Livonia 234-204, before falling to Huren the first time 248-236. In the loser's bracket she beat
Harrison the second time 259-234 to advance to the championship match. She averaged 224.7 for 12 games.
Harrison finished third for $300 and Verespej fourth for $200.
Reamy shot 300 in her first match win over Madalyn Klein of Whitmore Lake and settled for $175.
The entire 30 person qualifying field averaged 201.3.
Acme — Brett White is one day from a wire-to-wire win at the Michigan Open.
White, a left-hander from Caledonia in west Michigan, shot a 1-under 71 and was at 9 under for a one-shot lead on The Bear course at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
White has led after each of the first three rounds.
"I’ve never led a tournament wire-to-wire yet, but I’ll go out tomorrow and do it,” said White, 27.
A shot back was Chad Kurmel, 49, a teaching pro from Forest Akers at Michigan State in East Lansing. He shot a 5-under 67 on Wednesday.
Three back were defending champion Eric Lilleboe (71) of Okemos and 2020 Michigan PGA Professional champion Ben Cook (73) of Wayland. Cook played in the PGA Championship last month.
Timing on Jones announcement stings, but a new opportunity might be best
It’s not the homecoming Erik Jones expected.
Just days before NASCAR returned to the Wolverine State for this weekend’s races at Michigan Speedway, word leaked on the internet that the 24-year-old’s contract would not be renewed at Joe Gibbs Racing.
JGR confirmed the story later Thursday night. Christopher Bell, his fellow Toyota development driver, is expected to replace Jones in the No. 20 team in 2021.
“I greatly appreciate the opportunity that JGR provided me with over the last four years and I wish the team nothing but success and good fortune,” Jones said in the team release. “JGR gave me a solid foundation from which to go out and compete at the highest level and I look forward to building on that in the years to come.”
The Byron, Michigan, racer, the first in a long and tremendously successful list of Toyota proteges, executed the perfect audition when he was just 16 by beating Kyle Busch in the 2012 Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway. Soon after, Jones was recruited by Toyota.
Jones’ meteoric rise through the NASCAR ranks included wins in ARCA and then in the Truck Series—in his fifth start. He was both the youngest driver to win his first race and the championship in the Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series, at ages 17 and 19, respectively. His truck title came during his first full season on the tour.
Nine races into his Xfinity Series experience, Jones won from the pole at Texas Motor Speedway in the 2015 spring race. The following week, he was recruited to sub for an ailing Denny Hamlin at in the No. 11 Cup car after Hamlin suffered neck spasms during a lengthy rain delay at Bristol. Two years later, Jones graduated to a second car at Furniture Row Racing. The situation was far from ideal. Still, in a freshman class that included Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon and Corey LaJoie, Jones won 2017 rookie honors handily.
Once he joined the JGR fold in 2018, Jones scored his first Cup win at the July Daytona race. He doubled his top-five results, finished half of his starts in the top 10 and qualified for the Playoffs. In 2019, Jones won again—this time in the prestigious Southern 500 at Darlington—and earned a one-year extension on his contract, even though Bell waiting in the wings as the next young, hot prospect in the Toyota camp.
Although Jones started the 2020 season by winning the Busch Clash at Daytona, he’s currently 18th in the standings after five top fives and eight top 10s in 20 starts. Since joining JGR, Jones has been overshadowed by veteran teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. His results were better than those of Daniel Suarez during their two seasons together at JGR. Though Busch has yet to win in 2020, Hamlin has won a fourth of this year’s Cup races. Martin Truex Jr. won at Martinsville in June.
Sure, Jones has endured his share of bad luck. But compared with some of his 20-something peers on the Cup tour, Jones has more top-five and top-10 finishes than Alex Bowman, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon or Bell.
Certainly, Bell is a once-in-a-generational talent in whom Toyota has invested handsomely. Under the direction of Jason Ratcliff, who also guided Jones earlier in his career, Bell has made gains in the No. 95 Toyota. His true potential won't become evident until he's under JGR’s roof.
Perennially, there has been a stark contrast between Jones and the other top Gibbs’ drivers in equal equipment. When drivers such as Carl Edwards or Matt Kenseth entered the stable, both were able to hold their own and win immediately.
That’s not to say that Jones won’t flourish in a different environment, as Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch did when they left their previous employers for a fresh start. I would bet on it.
While Bubba Wallace is the frontrunner for the No. 42 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, and LaJoie appears headed to the No. 37 JTG Daugherty team, and the replacement plans for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports seat have yet to be determined, Jones could enter any of those situations and make a significant difference.
Brad Keselowski presser talking about his new deal and Covid-19 racing MIS Doubleheader
Notes from Presser